Migration Control in the North Atlantic World: The Evolution of State Practices in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution to the Inter-War Period

By Andreas Fahrmeir; Olivier Faron et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 14
Hamburg and the Transit of East
European Emigrants

Katja Wüstenbecker

In the 1890s, the senate of the city of Hamburg changed its migration policy from a liberal policy to a restrictive one within three years. There were several reasons for this development. The growing influx of emigrants made it necessary for an important port like Hamburg to control and organise emigration more effectively. Whereas most city officials preferred to keep emigrants out of the city as much as possible in order to lessen the risk of diseases and disorder, economic interests also had to be taken into consideration: boarding-houses, restaurants, shops and, of course, the shipping companies, were all eager to get their share of the emigration business. The city, therefore, had to find a way to reconcile these economic interests with its need for security. The solution that was eventually found had a major impact on the future transit of East European emigrants. In order to understand what happened in the summer of 1892 and why city and state officials reacted so strongly, we need to consider the developments that led to these events.


Hamburg’s Society for the Protection of Emigrants and
its Information Centre

Up to the 1850s, the German states had only few laws concerning the safety of emigrants. It was due to private initiative that the Society for the Protection of Emigrants was founded in Hamburg in 1851. Although it did not have any official authority and suffered from the lack of financial means, it was soon very successful in its efforts.1 The main task of the society’s

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